LPL Financial kicked off Focus 2018 today, welcoming over 3,600 advisors to the firm’s signature advisor event held this year in Boston. For three days, advisors have the opportunity to learn new strategies, share best practices, gain industry insights and engage with LPL’s leadership. New this year, advisors are able to ask questions directly of CEO Dan Arnold in one of four Town Halls held Monday and Tuesday. And the inaugural Focus on Inclusion was held today, providing inclusion best practices to help advisors differentiate their businesses by leveraging what’s unique about them.
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Read the full transcript below:
Samantha: Hello, my name is Samantha Davidson and I'm with the LPL Newsroom covering Focus, LPL's largest financial advisor conference being held right here in Boston this year. Today was filled with exciting events and pre-conference activities going on all day, including breakout sessions focused on a variety of topics including privacy and cybersecurity, as well as how to reach new clients in new generations. We hosted several technology sessions where advisors learn more about our technology platforms, including ClientWorks. Also highlighted today was the LPL Foundation volunteer event, which brought together advisors and local ninth graders. They worked together on interviewing skills and learned tips on how to be a good leader. Our other two main events were the Focus On Women conference and the Focus On Inclusion conference.
Samantha: Now I'm joined by Irene Berner with Berner Financial. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today.
Irene Berner: Great to be here.
Samantha: So I want to get a little background about you. Tell us a little bit about your business. How long have you been with LPL?
Irene Berner: I've been with LPL 18 years. Love, love, love LPL. My business is very simple. I have individuals, mostly baby boomer women, and wonderful relationships. We have fun. We plan, we try and live happily ever after.
Samantha: Irene, you have had such a great experience and work history. You started as an assistant and then you went to a stockbroker and then a financial advisor. In a traditionally male dominated industry, you really have seen the gamut and you've seen the change. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Irene Berner: Yes. When I started, it was not women friendly at all. Very sexist and male dominated. We basically didn't count. We didn't have the same opportunities. We made it because in that industry, it's basically a level playing field once you're in the position where you can produce. A woman can produce just as much as a man, more sometimes, but I didn't get any help. I didn't get any support. There weren't very many women. There was nothing close to what I see today at LPL at this conference. The support of the nurturing of each other, the sharing of ideas, the networking. It's phenomenal.
Samantha: So let's talk about that support from LPL. LPL is hosting Focus On Women, this conference you attended. What is it like to be in a room full of talented, successful financial advisors?
Irene Berner: It was great, it was just so wonderful. It was very heartwarming for me to see the community, to see the sharing, to see the networking, the willingness. Susan Kaplan, the speaker, oh my God. You talk about motivational and inspirational, and she's a real person. She said things that made me so happy because I think about certain things in very similar ways and I do certain things non-traditionally that she does as well. It's just the support of each other and the respect and just the willingness to be there for each other.
Samantha: Is there something that you want to or you will take away from Focus on Women when you go back to your business? Did you learn something that you were like, "Oh, this is gonna make a difference."?
Irene Berner: Yeah. Susan having 1.9 billion under management. I think she's the top ... I don't know, in the country, in the world at LPL. I'm not even sure. She's way up there and she's just a lovely person doing things the right way. It was just very inspiring for me to know that corny phrase, "the sky's the limit is possible for any of us."
Samantha: So I would imagine having this community of women that you can rely on, it really does make a difference.
Irene Berner: It makes a huge difference. During the morning sessions, we were forced to stand up and sit with different women for different practices and exercises and it was great talking to the different women. And each one shared her experience amd where the challenges are. Not as much what's working on because we were focusing on where we can improve in the areas that were lacking and just the sharing. Very heartwarming. That's the word that just keeps popping into my mind because it was just so wonderful to see that in the whole room and there could have been a few hundred women at least, I think. It was just lovely. It was really nice.
Samantha: What do you hope for women in the financial services industry going forward?
Irene Berner: What I'm hoping is that things continue as they are women supporting women, propping each other up, being there as a net, networking and just all of us helping one another to have a better life. That's it.
Samantha: Very good. Thank you so much for spending some time and sharing your insights with us. Irene.
Irene Berner: My pleasure.
Samantha: One of the other big events was Focus on Inclusion, a conference right here at Focus this year and joining me now is Ye Su, program manager with Partners Federal Credit Union in Burbank, California. Thank you so much for being here.
Ye Su: No, you're most welcome.
Samantha: So first tell me how long have you been with LPL?
Ye Su: I've been with LPL for 11 years now.
Samantha: Describe your business, because it really is pretty neat to hear it.
Ye Su: Yeah, we're fascinating. We're sort of unique in the sense where not only are we in the financial services business, but we're also in the entertainment business because of our sponsor. Our sponsor is the Walt Disney Company and that's our sole sponsor. We are also considered cast members of the Disney Company, so we work there. We basically all work for the mouse.
Samantha: I love it.
Ye Su: I know.
Samantha: You have a great story to tell. So tell me this, Ye. You attended the Focus On Inclusion event. What was that like?
Ye Su: Special. I wasn't expecting that and I think the first time I was engaged for the inclusion and diversity council was back in March or April during Masters. They rounded up a group of us together and we started talking and I was like, "I like that idea. I think LPL's finally catching up and really staying current." So I love that idea.
Samantha: There really is this huge momentum and support behind diversity inclusion because we realized we need to do that because that is what the world is that we're living in.
Ye Su: I agree.
Samantha: So what is your role in the Focus On Inclusion conference?
Ye Su: I am part of the council, the Focus On Inclusion and diversity council. I'm one of the council members.
Samantha: What do you hope for with this role for LPL and for other financial advisors and other people in the industry?
Ye Su: To get the word out.
Samantha: What do you mean?
Ye Su: Like you said it earlier, this is the trend and me having coming from the Walt Disney Company, which is probably one of the biggest proponents of inclusion and diversity, I think the importance of us especially considering the engagement. We're frontline dealing with members and clients and the broad client base, which is a diverse group of people that we're dealing with on a daily basis. Right? Sometimes you got to speak their language. You got to somehow reflect off of or sort of create that mirror image off of them, them being a client, so they will feel comfortable and then be at home.
Samantha: Because historically there is a whole huge population of underserved American investors out there.
Ye Su: Correct. As a matter of fact, there is a ton of those people who have not had the opportunity to really have someone help them and address their financial situation. I would say part of the reason behind it could be the fact that there's been a lack of diversity and inclusion in our business. Meaning they come in and they don't feel comfortable, they don't see "their own people." So I think what LPL's doing right now is great and it's wonderful.
Samantha: And going forward, what do you hope that momentum looks like?
Ye Su: Well, this is the very first engagement, right? We started it earlier this year and have met the high level people within the LPL management team and we're really hoping that this is going to turn into something sustainable, is inclusive. That's the idea behind it, right? I'm also looking for some cross pollination too. For example, I actually made a suggestion earlier about possibly joining a partnership or forming a partnership with some of the pioneer companies out there, for example the Walt Disney Company. I think that'd be great and there's a lot to learn from those people who've been doing this for a long time. They certainly have buttoned down, right? The gist of it is to turn this into something that is really going to benefit not only the advisors but also the clients out there.
Samantha: And continues to grow.
Ye Su: Something meaningful. Correct.
Samantha: What is the reaction that you're getting from people when you talk about this huge push to be inclusive of everyone? And that's for advisors and for clients.
Ye Su: The general reception has been warm and welcoming. Some were actually surprised saying, "Oh, I thought you did that or you have been doing it." I was like, "No, actually this is the very, very initial engagement with LPL. They just rolled out that program." So they're very enthusiastic about that and again, having those pioneers out there, especially me with our ties with the Walt Disney Company, we've seen those actions. We've seen them pretty much on a regular basis and there's a lot of cross pollination between the credit union and the Walt Disney Company and also a lot of synergy campaigns. They're looking for something based on a very high expectation and again, LPL being the number one broker dealer out there on an independent platform, I think the expectations are pretty high. I have pretty high expectations.
Samantha: Well this is great to watch and we certainly appreciate your time and your insight and your participation and partnership with LPL.
Ye Su: Sure. It's an honor to be a part of this and really, I'm looking to contribute in any way that I can and hopefully make this something great.
Samantha: Wonderful. All right. Enjoy the rest of Focus.
Ye Su: Thank you.
Samantha: Thanks again to Irene and Ye for spending some time with us. Now looking ahead to Monday, LPL leaders will officially kick off the day on the main stage for the general session. There's also a full day of breakout sessions including Dan Arnold's interactive town halls, where pretty much any question is on the table, that should be fun. Other industry leaders will tackle a variety of topics such as building relationships to drive growth, IRA planning and privacy protection strategies. Another unique feature we're bringing you this year is the morning research podcast. It will be recorded right here in the studio every morning at Focus and you can listen to it here on lpl.com at the end of every day. Be sure to tune in again to the LPL recording studio for a complete recap of some of the day's biggest events as well as one on one conversations with special guests. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @LPL and share your top moments at Focus using #lplfocus. I'm Samantha Davison with the LPL Newsroom.
Irene Berner is a registered representative of LPL Financial LLC and advisor at Berner Financial Services.
Ye Su is a registered representative of LPL Financial LLC and program manager at Partners Retirement & Wealth Management, which is a division of Partners Federal Credit Union, a full-service financial institution sponsored by The Walt Disney Company.
The views and opinions expressed by the LPL Financial representatives are as of the date of the recording. The views are not indicative of future performance or success. LPL Financial cannot be held responsible for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information offered.